$385,000 just the start for waterways

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Funding may have been announced but the work is not over yet for the Upper Clutha Water Group, which is working on a five-year plan to improve the health of waterways in the Wanaka area.

In an announcement last week, the Government confirmed the group would receive $385,000 from its Freshwater Improvement Fund, which would be added to the $820,000 the group intends to spend over the next five years to manage waterways in the Upper Clutha region, including Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea, and the Clutha and Cardrona rivers.

Group spokeswoman Mandy Bell said waterways were affected by a range of factors, and so the water management plan needed to involve stakeholders such as iwi, urban residents, tourism operators, visitors, farmers, the Otago Regional Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, and scientists.

The group would start getting feedback from relevant stakeholders to understand what was important to them, she said.

Along with the management plan, the group will be co-ordinating strategic riparian plantings to restore margins along rivers and other waterways. In addition, the group will conduct a study into Wanaka’s stormwater quality.

The five-year project would also involve long-term monitoring of waterways to track trends and changes to sediment, E. coli levels and concentrations of other nutrients, she said.

Being proactive about understanding changes to waterways over time was necessary to work out how to resolve issues, she said.

“Our water is good but we want more detail.

“Where are we now? Have we got enough information? Do we need more science?”

The Upper Clutha Water Group was established in August last year to co-ordinate the various projects that were already under way in the area. Along with the regional and district council, the group is also comprised of smaller community groups, including Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust and Guardians of Lake Wanaka.

A collaborative approach ensured there were no double-up projects and also helped identify work that was missing. The water management project went hand in hand with the ORC’s research into lake snow, she said.

The funding announcement came just one day after the ORC revealed the genetic source of Lindavia intermedia, the algae that creates lake snow, was highly likely to have come from overseas.

Landcare Research indicated specimens from Lake Youngs in Washington State and all New Zealand lakes were identical in more than one respect.

ORC technical committee chairman Andrew Noone said the findings would allow a more intensive research programme to be carried out to discover the origins of the species and ways to prevent its spread.

A public information session outlining the lake snow findings and the Upper Clutha Water Group’s projects will take place on Wednesday, October 4 at the Lake Wanaka Centre auditorium at 7pm.